Kent, Washington, pet owners are being told to steer clear of any tennis balls they might see lying about as Fourth of July weekend approaches. Police are warning residents about homemade fireworks in general, but “tennis ball bombs,” wherein the insides are removed, replaced with explosive material, then set off with a makeshift wick, are of course, particularly alluring to dogs.
“Some of them are very effective and dangerous, and some of them don’t work, but you don’t know,” Jarod Kasner, public information officer for the Kent Police Department in Washington state, told CBS News. “People light them, leave them thinking it’s a dud, but who knows what’s happening on the inside. Then a dog comes and picks it up…”
Police departments like that in Kent are warning citizens to be cautious if they see an abandoned item.
In 2000, a Portland man was reportedly on a walk with his dog when he spotted a tennis ball in the grass. He picked up the ball and tossed it to the pup.When the dog bit down, the ball exploded, CBS Sacramento reports; the pet had to be euthanized immediately.
“If it doesn’t go ‘boom’ some people just walk away from it,” Kasner said. “Unfortunately, dogs pick up everything up in their mouth and bring it to you.”
This makes it a serious hazard for people, too, of course, Kasner explained, because there’s a chance the explosive ball could go off in your hand.
“It could be smoldering on the inside and when you move it around that’s when it goes off,” Kasner said.
If you see a ball or any other household item that looks burnt or has a wick or tape attached to it, don’t touch it, police warn. Instead, call 911 and wait for police and fire officials to investigate.
The best advice from officials: Don’t play with fireworks or try to create your own.
“It seems cool, but it’s…reckless,” Kasner said.